In-Depth Turn Analysis #2: ‘War coach’

A new series from the authors on HSP. We take a complex in-game turn situation, analyze it and break down the best/optimal play with input from several Legend players!

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Hi guys! Welcome to week 2 of In-Depth Turn Analysis. In this series we take a screenshot of a complex position and several writers discuss possible plays. In order to get the most from the series I would encourage all reader’s to do background research (if applicable) and think about what they would do before reading the opinions of the HSP writing team.

To Read Last week’s instalment, Click HERE.

This week’s position is taken from a ladder game Lifecoach played on stream. Let’s begin!

About This Week’s Deck

You might not know what deck your opponent is playing, but in every game you should know what deck you are playing. Therefore, before we show you this weeks position let’s have a quick look at our deck.  If you have not seen/played a deck like this before I would recommend that you play a few games with it yourself and/or learn about the deck (e.g. Watch videos of the deck in action, and/or read articles about it, etc). If you take the effort to learn how the deck is supposed to work you will probably come up with a better answer when you study this week’s position.

Without further ado, this weeks deck is:



The deck list above is Strifeco’s ‘Demon Handlock’ deck. This is not the exact list Lifecoach was running but it is ‘close enough’ for our purposes (e.g. the above list only has one Ironbeak Owl, but we know for a fact Lifecoach runs two).

Update (2015/04/20): Lifecoach was probably using the same deck he took to Seat Story Cup III, which you can view by clicking here.

You can learn more about the deck by clicking on the following links:


Here’s two video’s taken from Strifecro’s Youtube channel.


The Situation

Okay, so let’s look at the position shall we? (clicking on the image will make it bigger)

View post on

In actual games, positions have context beyond the deck you are using. In an effort to make this series more realistic and less ‘puzzle-like’ let’s talk about a few cards that have been used in the game so far and any other little bits of information that seem relevant.


YOUR HAND: Ironbeak Owl x2, Defender of Argus, Molten Giant, Dr. Boom, Sylvanas Windrunner, Voidcaller, Twilight Drake, Sludge Belcher



KEY CARDS USED (OPPONENT): Preparation, Sap, Fan of Knives

ANY OTHER NOTES: Loatheb‘s Battlecry is in effect: all yours spells cost 5 additional mana.

THE GAME SO FAR:   TURN 1) Both Skip. TURN 2) Rogue daggers up, Warlock Life Taps. TURN 3) Rogue plays Fan of Knives (on empty board), Warlock uses coin and plays Twilight Drake. TURN 4) Rogue plays Violet Teacher. Preparation and Saps the Twilight Drake, Warlock replays Twilight Drake. TURN 5) Rogue plays Loatheb.

Armed with this information, you must now start to think about the needs/peculiarities of both the position and the match-up. Get busy thinking! In the next section we will see what some of us at HSP thought about the position and what we think the best play is.

Our Opinion(s)

Click on the writer’s name to read their opinion. It is worth noting that all writer’s submit their opinions independently. This has the unfortunate consequence of repetition, but that’s not always a bad thing: hearing the same idea expressed in several different ways can help the understanding. Another advantage of repetition is that it can help highlight how Legend Players think in general: If all of the writers analysing the position focus on a particular aspect, then that ought to serve as a good indication that this is a skill/understanding that most Legend Players posses. In short; if you want to hit Legend, focus on the similarities in our thoughts rather than the differences.

The main reason we have gone down this route is that it prevents various forms of ‘group think’ and ‘conformity bias’. Sometimes everyone will agree on the play and then there will be other times where there will be several opposing views. The last thing to be said is that, even though most of us are strong players, we are all still human and we all make mistakes.

Okay let’s have a look what us writer’s think, shall we?

[spoiler title=”Smashthings”]

This position is fiendishly complex. But on the bright side, since the screenshot is taken Lifecoach’s stream I can compare my thoughts with one of the worlds best players (I have deliberately avoided watching the clip thus far), so this may end up being an education for me too!

Okay, let’s get started!

In last weeks puzzle I made the argument that we want to ask two separate questions when in a tough spot; the first question is about the ‘strategical aims’ of the game/position, and the second question concerns what the possible options are.  I want to use this framework for this week’s answer.


Okay, so what are the strategical aims for this turn? Well, firstly, let’s consider the match-up: The way the Rogue has played the game thus far indicates that we are probably playing against an ‘Oil Rogue’ list, that has amassed a huge lead on board. So the question we need to ask ourselves is “What needs to happen, from this point on, for us to beat Oil Rogue?” By answering this question we will begin to understand what we need to do on this turn.

Perhaps the first and most obvious point to make is that one thing we probably need to happen in order to win is clear the board. But once we go and look at our hand we realise that this is not currently an option (i.e. we don’t have either Shadowflame nor Hellfire). Thus, realising this aim is not really possible on this turn; the best we could do is either trade some of the board (e.g. kill something with our Drake) and/or Life Tap and hope to draw into one of those board clear cards for us to use next turn.

Okay, so the obvious ‘strategical aim’ is not really an option right now. Therefore, we need to identity other possible strategical aims and see if we can work toward those.  In light of that, I want to ask: “What are the best and worst possibilities for next turn?”

For now, let’s imagine that we make a really simple play such as casting the other Twilight Drake. What could the Rogue do in response?

  • Possibility #1

Rogue: Goes ‘all-in’ on our Face and then either: (a) plays more minions (b) goes face with damage spells (c) plays Preparation into Sprint

Warlock Response: We are under a huge amount of pressure, but we could draw into ‘the ultimate punish’: For example, we could top-deck board clear and then drop a cheap/free Molten Giant.

Alternatively, we play the Giant for free or ‘near-free’ and taunt both the Giant and Drake with Defender of Argus.

  • Possibility #2

Rogue: Starts trading his minions (possibly with the help of spells) with our Twilight Drake(s). And then either (a) plays more minions (b) plays Preparation into Sprint

Warlock Response: Since the Rogue didn’t go face we can’t play out the Giant for free. But the lack of face damage also means we are under a lot less pressure; we could probably quite calmly just life tap + Voidcaller in this case.

That or, use board clear (if we top-decked it).

  • Possibility #3

Rogue: The Rogue adopts a mixed strategy: he/she chips away at our minions and drops us to low– but not ‘free Giant low’– life (e.g. 15 life). And then either: (a) plays more minions (b) plays Preparation into Sprint.

Warlock Response: Unlike possibility #2 we are under considerable pressure here (at 15 health against an Oil Rogue with cards + board we are likely dead next turn). Moreover, unlike possibility #1 we are unable to punish the Rogue play with a Free Molten Giant.  In short, unless we top-deck a key card (such as Shadowflame) we are probably toast!

 Of these possibilities, the worst case scenario is probably #3(c). In this situation the Rogue refills the hand with cards and maintains a lot of pressure. The best possibility (for the Warlock) is probably #1(a); since in this case, although we are low on life, we do at least have the possibility of punishing the Rogue’s play with a major ‘swing-turn’.

So by looking at a few possibilities I hope you have spotted a useful idea: Our ‘strategical aim’ for this turn should be to encourage the Rogue to do either one of two things: (1) Go ‘all in’ face (2) Go for minion trades. 

Notice also that the Rogue has already burned two key cards; Sap, Preparation.  Using up one copy of Sap means that Defender of Argus is likely to be a key card in winning the match (how else can Rogue deal with Huge Taunts?).

The fact that the Rogue has used up one copy of Preparation means that the Rogue is not that likely to be able to ‘rearm’ the hand with Sprint (which is probably the single best thing the Rogue could do next turn). Therefore, it is more likely the Rogue will just play minion(s) next turn.

Okay, that’s probably enough strategy talk for now, let’s now look at our options for this turn.


Okay, so let’s break this turn down into two components: (a) What we can play (b) What we do with the Twilight Drake currently on board (e.g. do we attack a minion? Attack face? etc). Let’s start by enumerating the possible plays and we will consider what to do with the Drake as we go.

Enumerating the plays:

  1. Play Life Tap (Hand Size = 10) + Play something (e.g. Owl, or what you top-deck).
  2. Play Sludge Belcher.
  3. Play Twilight Drake
  4. Play Voidcaller
  5. Play Defender of Argus
  6. Play Ironbeak Owl without using Hero Power
  7. Other possibilities I didn’t think of.

I’m going to talk about each play, but I’m not going to talk about them in order.

Play #6: Owl without Hero Power

I do not like this play at all. Not only are you wasting mana you don’t actually get any value out of the silence effect either. Ergo, this play is basically “put a 2/1 minion on board”.

I’m sure plenty of the beginners reading this are thinking “You can silence the Violet Teacher, you idiot!” But such a view is misinformed: Against Oil Rogue you don’t want to silence teacher since that makes a combo’d Tinker’s Sharpsword Oil a lot more powerful (the +3 attack will buff a minion that can attack this turn. Meanwhile, if you don’t silence the teacher that +3 attack buff could land on a newly summoned 1/1 apprentice that can’t attack this turn).

Play #2: Sludge Belcher

This play looks like a perfectly reasonable safe play, But after considerable thought I consider it a bad move. Remember when I spoke of ‘Strategical aims’ I mentioned the idea that this turn we either want to clear the board or take a lot of face damage: this play accomplishes neither goal.

As a matter of fact, this play ‘gently persuades’ the Rogue to make the best play possible! Recall that I said earlier that the worse outcome for us is for the Rogue to drop us to about 15 life. Well, playing Sludge Belcher makes such a play very natural for the Rogue: e.g. Loatheb can smash into sludge (leaving a 5/2) and the remaining 1/2 is easily mopped up. The Rogue can then push for a small amount (about 3 points) of face damage (possibly more if the Rogue commits cards).

In short, I think this leads to a position where unless we top-deck board clear we are left without a powerful follow-up play.

Moreover, it is perhaps also worth considering that Sludge Belcher is a powerful card in the Oil Rogue Match-up since the card is really good at mitigating the potential burst damage of Blade Flurry (this is because the deathrattle makes is really hard for the Rogue to attack face with the first hit of the weapon and/or stops the Southsea Deckhand). Ergo, it is tempting to hold onto Sludge for later because we may be able to get more value out of the card.

In short, I consider Sludge to be a ‘safe-looking-play’ that is ultimately incorrect: it is incorrect because it doesn’t help with the aforementioned ‘strategical aims’.

Play #3, #4: Play Twilight Drake, Voidcaller

Before looking at the specifics of this play we need to ask a simple question that I have thus far neglected: “If we don’t Taunt up, are we dead?”

We are at 23 Life and the Rogue has 10 damage on Board (11 with weapon). Can the Rogue find 12 damage with 5 cards and 6 mana? Well, it is certainly possible, but it would require a preparation (and remember that the Rogue has already used one of those); for example: Deadly Poison + Preparation + Tinker’s Sharpsword Oil + Blade Flurry = 25 Damage (or 24 Damage if we kill a 1/1 with Our Drake).  

And by the way, since the Rogue equipped a dagger on turn 2 but has not attacked with it yet I think that we should probably ‘read’ the rogue as having some sort of weapon synergy in hand. But does he have the whole combo? I very much doubt it.

Moreover, even if he does have combo, we still have a 1/3 chance of survival (Preparation + Tinker’s Sharpsword Oil = two new 1/1 apprentices that can’t attack (this turn). With 4 minions on the board, that means there is a 2/6 chance that the Rogue misses out on the 3 damage he/she needs to win).

In short; not playing a Taunt this turn is a risk but I consider it a small one.

Okay, so now that we have established that we do not need to taunt this turn, let’s consider the merits of playing the Demon versus playing the Dragon.

For those of you that read my Part Three of my ‘Playing to Win’ series on bluffing, you would know that Lifecoach is not someone who is afraid to play out a Voidcaller even when there is no demons in the Hand (in other words; we try to ‘bluff’ with the card). Having already used up one Sap (and considering that ‘Silence’ in Oil Rogue is rare) I think that it is reasonable to assume that the Rogue will just ignore this minion; instead preferring to hit face or attack the Drake.

Depending on the Rogues choice(s) on our next turn we may have two targets for the Argus, which would be a nice follow-up play (especially if we happen to top-deck a demon).  With that said, a taunted up Voidcaller is only a 4/5, which unfortunately cannot trade with either of the Rogue’s big minions.

Playing the second Drake is a similar looking play but there are a few differences. The most notable of which is the size of these minions and how powerful the follow-up Argus is.

The second difference is how the Rogue might respond: With two 4/9’s on the board chances are this play makes the Rogue feel as though he/she cannot play for Board Control, and will therefore go face and aim to win with burst instead. But with that said, the Rogue may try to go for Board control if he/she can set-up a powerful Blade Flurry.

Talking of Blade Flurry, one small minor point to note is that the Voidcaller may scare the Rogue into delaying a big Blade Flurry should they have it. The reason being that if an opponent kills a Voidcaller on their turn then it gives the Demon ‘psuedo-charge’, meaning that the Warlock can immediately put the Demon to work and pound the crap out of something. Simply stated: if the deathrattle cannot be avoided (and you have no counter to the Demon in hand), you are usually better off forcing the Warlock to make the trades.

In short, there are merits to both plays (assuming the Rogue is scared to call the bluff). All things considered I do think I like Drake a bit more powerful than the Demon play, but it is interesting to note that the choice is not as obvious as it may have initially appeared.

Play #5 Argus the Drake

Like Sludge Belcher, this is one of those plays that initially looks tempting but as a matter of fact probably losses the game. But you can’t really blame anyone for fooling for it, the nature of the mistake is somewhat subtle. And that is what makes it excellent for this series. Okay, let’s delve into that now.

If we Taunt up the Drake we get a 5/10 minion, and it only feels natural to slam it into Loatheb. This leaves a 5/5 taunt on our side of the board, and 6 damage on the Rogue’s side of the board. Clearly then, even if we rather generously assume that the Rogue has a terrible hand he/she still has no trouble pushing through the Taunt. And with the right spells, the Rogue is potentially getting through the Taunt very efficiently.

In the ‘strategical aims’ section I made the point that getting out a Taunted Molten Giant is pretty good; The winner of the game is thus decided by whether Rogue top-decks the second Sap and/or is able to burn us with direct damage (e.g. Eviscerate, Blade Flurry) before we can heal up (e.g. Antique Healbot, Lord Jaraxxus).

But should we get out a free Molten Giant without taunt, then all we have is an 8/8 body that threatens to win the game in 2-3 turns. Unfortunately though this ‘clock’ is probably not anywhere near fast enough; the Rogue may be able to just ignore it and burst us down with huge weapon hits.

The point I am trying to make here is that if the Rogue is able to burst us down we need huge taunts on the board in order to have any chance of stabilising. Using Defender of Argus right now forgoes that option (unless we are lucky enough to top-deck another Taunt-Giver).

In short; I consider Argus on Drake a very short-sighted play that greatly harms the Warlock’s long-term strategical capacity.

Play #1: Hero Power + ?

Remember when I analysed the Play #3, #4 I said that we needed to ask whether we could survive with only 23 Health? Well, if we Hero Power we need to ask ourselves what we can die to if we end the turn with 21 Health.

The answer is that the risk of our opponent having lethal has not significantly increased but we cannot ignore the fact that the Rogue has additional ‘outs’ (e.g. Deadly Poison + Eviscerate x2 = 21 Damage). Since this is exact lethal, it is worth pointing out that if we kill a 1/1 with our Drake we can survive.

Okay so, If we chose to Life Tap there is a pretty good chance that we are not going to die next turn. So the question we now need to answer is “If we chose to Life Tap, What are we looking for?” 

The first thing to note is that if we happen to top-deck a Darkbomb/ Mortal Coil we cannot use them this turn due to Loatheb’s Battlecry. But with that said, we could top-deck a Mountain Giant which we could play since it’s the 10th card in hand. That would be a pretty good outcome.

UPDATE (2015/04/14): I wrote my opinion without knowing the exact list Lifecoach was using. In short, I made the mistaken assumption that Mountain Giant was still in the deck and as a matter of fact it is not. Since one of the best cards you can possibly get after Life Tapping get is not in the deck I have had to re-evaluate this play as being worse than I had initially thought. 

With this said, in the original analysis I neglected to mention the possibility of top-decking Sunfury Protector,Zombie Chow and so on, which while not exceptional are better than simply playing an Owl.

In short, I don’t think I covered this play in sufficient detail; but hey! my opinion ended up being over 3000 words anyway. So, I think I’m going to cut myself some slack here. 🙂

Another possibility is that we Top-deck something useful for next turn (e.g. AoE such as Shadowflame). Let’s suppose that happens, we could then finish the turn by playing an Owl. For the reasons outlined above, I wouldn’t Silence the Violet Teacher (thus, I am merely playing Owl for a 2/1 body).

Normally you wouldn’t want to play Owl just as a body but I would do so in this particular case for three reasons: (1) We already have two of them in hand. (2) Oil Rogue only typically has one good target for Silence anyway (e.g. Edwin Vancleef) (3) If we don’t play something, we will discard our next draw due to the ten card hand-size limit (and that card is likely to be more useful than Owl).

Now with Shadowflame in hand we could try to use our Drake to bluff our opponent (e.g. Killing a 1/1 with the Drake isn’t the sort of thing someone with AoE would usually do) and hope for overextension. Alternately, we could hit one of the two minions to try to set up a full Shadowflame board clear. The problem with such an Attack with the Drake is that is effectively ‘telegraphs’ a Shadowflame/Hellfire, and thus our opponent is less likely to overextend.  The third option is just to hit face. And I’ll be honest; I’m not sure what the best option is here (I’m tied between the 1/1 bluff kill and going face).

But now let’s imagine we get a terrible card from our Life Tap. The question we need to ask ourselves is: “Can we win the game without drawing Board Clear”.  The Answer? probably not. Even if we get the 9/9 Giant out (with Taunt) and even if the Rogue doesn’t top-deck Sap the sad reality is that if we don’t clear the board then the Giant is likely to be quickly killed via the Rogues minions; our only chance would be to have two really big Taunts and hope that the Rogue cannot push through both.

So maybe we do draw a useless card, but even in this worst case we are still +1 cards though our deck (ergo, we increase the probability of drawing the key cards).

How may our opponent respond? Well, the Rogue may opt to trade a few minions and/or spells for the Drake. In which case, we are reasonably happy since our life total is likely to remain high. If, on the other hand the Rogue pushes for face-damage then we are even more likely to be able to swing the game around than we would be if had just played the second Drake. For example, if the Rogue drops us to 10 then we may top-deck the second Molten Giant, which therefore gives us the option of playing (and Taunting up) two Giants.


Wow. I’ve spent close to 3,000 words going over this position. And even as I write this sentence, I’m still not 100% certain what the right play is. But on balance, I think I prefer play #1.

So, my play is going to look something like this:

  • Life Tap:  If we get Mountain Giant we play it. Else we Play Owl (Not Targeting Violet Teacher!), if nothing better shows up.
  • We then play around the card we draw. For example, if we draw into AoE, then we take out a 1/1 with the Drake to try ‘bluff’ not having said AoE. (Remember also that killing the 1/1 reduces the Rogue ‘lethal outs’ as well)
  • Next turn, should the Rogue push for Face-Damage, we punish by taunting up Drake + Giant (remember, one sap has already been used).

It is worth pointing out however, that I have come to this conclusion after a lot of thought, And if I am to be honest I am not sure I would have been able to see everything I have discussed within the time-limit of a single turn. Thus, I think it is likely that in a real game, under real time-pressure, I would have made the much simpler Twilight Drake play.

UPDATE (2015/04/14): Without Mountain Giants to tap into, I think I now consider Drake the slightly better play.

Hopefully you guys will find such detailed analysis useful. Now, if you don’t mind I’m going watch the clip of Lifecoach wrestling with this position. I’m curious to see how close/far apart our thinking is one this one.

Smashthings Out!

[/spoiler][spoiler title=”k3lv”]

When evaluating a turn, my methodology is simple–look at all the options and then decide which one will have the best long-term impact. I will first analyse all the options available, then consider some important issues before providing a conclusion on what to play.

Play #1: Play Argus on Drake

The Play: Defender of Argus on the Twilight Drake and then trade with the Violet Teacher.?

Trading with the Violet Teacher is an interesting option, as removing a Violet Teacher from a Rogue’s board is usually essential, as it can create so much value from the 1/1 tokens. Trading the Violet Teacher would leave behind a 5/7 taunted Twilight Drake which forces the Rogue to kill it or Sap it away (though Sap would be unlikely here as he played a Sap the previous turn).

However, the drawback of using the Defender of Argus is that you are only using it to taunt up one minion, when it could be used to taunt up two minions. Furthermore, a 5/7 taunted Twilight Drake is pretty easy for the Rogue to deal with as he already has enough damage on the board to trade with the Twilight Drake. Rogues also run a lot of damage spells, and in this situation, all it takes is for the Rogue to have 1 Eviscerate to remove the Twilight Drake while keeping the Loatheb at full health (Eviscerate, trade 1/1 tokens into Twilight Drake and hit with weapon).

Play #2: Hero Power + Owl

The play: Tap and play Ironbeak Owl on the Violet Teacher, and either kill the 1/1 token with the Twilight Drake or hit face.

The only benefit of this play is that it disables the Violet Teacher, which could get out of hand. This option does not do much to develop the board, nor does it remove any minions from your opponent’s board. Tapping also brings the Rogue closer to a potential lethal. By disabling the Violet Teacher this way, you could give the Rogue player an easy Tinker’s Sharpsword Oil turn, as the tokens actually hinder the Rogue’s ability to get maximum value from this spell.

Play #3: Play Voidcaller

This option develops a 3/4 onto the board, which is not exactly a threat on the board as the Rogue could easily clear it. In addition, there are currently no demons in your hand, so if it does die, then the deathrattle would be wasted. However, I note that most players will ignore the Void Caller where possible, as its deathrattle could leave something on the board that cannot be dealt with.

Play #4: Play Drake

This option develops a 4/9 onto the board but does not deal with your opponent’s board. On the face of it, this is the best option in terms of developing your own board. However, your opponent will have the opportunity to gain more tokens from the Violet Teacher, and either damage your face with the board, or clear one of your Twilight Drakes. From the board alone, the Rogue can deal 11 damage to either your face, or clear one of your Twilight Drakes, which would leave you at 12 hp.

However, this play potentially gives you a very strong board the next turn, as you can play Defender of Argus to have two taunted 5/10 Twilight Drakes. If the Rogue decided to hit face, you could potentially Defender of Argus a Molten Giant and a Twilight Drake, which leaves you with a very commanding board position.

Play #5: Play Sludge Belcher

This play develops a 3/5 onto the board and makes the most of our mana crystals. However, a 3/5 on this board is very easy to clear, as it is directly countered by the Loatheb on the opponent’s side. The 1/2 token is also easily cleared.

Hence, the only benefit from playing Sludge Belcher in this instance is to minimise damage to the face. If the Rogue player decided to trade the Loatheb on your Sludge Belcher, then that would mean that you could clear it next turn with your Twilight Drake, and taunt up with Defender of Argus.


While unlikely, it is possible that the Rogue has lethal here if you do not deal with anything on the board. This would require the Rogue to have Preparation, Tinker’s Sharpsword Oil, Blade Flurry and an Eviscerate (with the Tinker’s Sharpsword Oil buff not falling on a freshly created Token from the Violet Teacher). This combo would do 25 damage for 5 mana, which is more than enough for lethal. In this instance, playing the Sludge Belcher or Defender of Argus would make sense.

However, this requires the Rogue to have this exact combo in order to win, which is highly unlikely as your opponent only has 5 cards in their hand the next turn. The rule of thumb is to play around 1 instance of a card (i.e. Kill Command), not 4 cards. Hence, we should not be worried about whether the Rogue has lethal the next turn.


It is a toss-up between playing Defender of Argus on the Twilight Drake (and clearing the Violet Teacher) and playing another Twilight Drake. The first option deals with the Violet Teacher, which could potentially get out of hand. The second option gives you a better board position, and creates the potential for an even better board position the next turn, while protecting your face from further damage.

I would probably play the Twilight Drake, and hope to clear the Violet Teacher the next turn.


When making a play the things that I focus on are:

  1. Is the card useful right now, or will get more value later?
  2. How much of an immediate impact it will have?
  3. Does it use up all my mana?

Keeping these things in mind here are the plays that I would consider in this position:

1. Play Defender of Argus and kill Violet Teacher:

Using the Defender of Argus on Twilight Drake and finishing off the Violet Teacher can be very useful since it leaves me with a 5/7 taunt that can completely deal with the Rogue’s board. One Sap was used earlier in the match so she is less likely to have another one.  Also I can see that she didn’t Sap the Twilight Drake again when it was played the second time. This might be because she wanted to play Loatheb to protect her board, but it may also be indicative of the Rogue not having the second copy of Sap in hand.

This play provides Immediate impact on the board and thus it is viable.


  •  Deal’s with one of the Rogue’s threats.
  •  Can deal with the board as well if no spells are used.
  •  Saves a lot of potential damage to self.


  • You are down one Defender and do not know when you will draw another one.
  • You have a Molten Giant in hand making the Defender of Argus more valuable to keep in your hand.

2. Play Twilight drake and kill 1/1:

This play will give you another huge minion (4/9) on the board which the Rogue should probably have difficulty removing efficiently. Since you don’t have any way of killing the Teacher or the Loatheb you will just kill a 1/1. This play will not be effective till the next turn, when you can play a defender of argus and kill both the Violet teacher and the Loatheb.

The Rogue might choose to hit you in the face since no taunts are up, this would generally be a bad thing but in this particular case we do have a molten giant in hand. This play however has some risk because if the 3 of the 4 cards in the Rogue’s hand are Preparation + Tinkers Sharpsword Oil + Blade flurry She can deal a total of 22 damage putting you down to one health which might be a problem since you have no heals. But the Rogue also just used a preparation making that less likely to happen. So with calculated risk and the possibility of a strong play on the next turn this play can be made and is viable.


  • Sets up for stronger future play with Defender of Argus and/or molten giant.


  • There is a small possibility that you die.
  • Violet teacher stays alive and can generate a lot of annoying tokens that you currently have no way of dealing with.
  • You might take too much damage and not be able to recover.

Plays that should not be made:

1. Ironbeak Owl to silence the Violet Teacher:

This would be a bad play, not only does your opponent kill the owl with a 1/1 token, it doesn’t have a noticeable impact. Your opponent can deal a lot of damage to you and also clear your board which will make your next turn really weak. There is also a chance that you might simply die. While true that the Rogue deck has no major silence targets other than Teacher and Bloodmage and maybe vancleef, it is still not a good time to play the owl.

2. Life Tap:

There are no 3 mana cards in the deck that would improve your board position at all. Basically you lose 2 life and are forced to pass your turn. relying on rng on such an important turn to topdeck something is not a good idea since you are risking death or a lot of damage. Making life tap + pass/owl the teacher the worst play possible.

3. Sludge Belcher:

Although this might seem like a great play since it protects your Twilight Drake and saves your Defender of Argus and some face damage as well as spends all your mana. It really isn’t since your Sludge Belcher will die way too easily to the Loatheb and Token + hero power. While this play will buy you a turn, it really doesn’t give you the option to make a powerful play anytime soon and you might just lose to the Rogue due to a loss in tempo. When compared to the other options, I consider Sludge Belcher a bad play.

4. Play Voidcaller:

Considering that you have no demons in hand this is a sub-optimal play at first glance. But with that said the Rogue is (probably) less likly to kill off this minion in the fear of a Mal’ganis being summoned. Without Sap this could be scary for the Rogue, and so therefore they probably won’t kill it. This means on your next turn you are assured to have a 3/4 on your board in most cases. But the 3/4 wont be able to do much since it lacks the stats to kill anything. Even if you are trying to bluff a powerful demon, it won’t matter since the Rogue is not obligated to kill the Voidcaller anyways. Thus this play is not viable.


So after this analysis I can conclude that the best play would be to play the Twilight Drake and develop a board for a better future turn. This play is a small calculated risk  but offers a very high reward.


And since this week is Premium I thought I would give you guys a little something extra. Back at HSP HQ there was considerable debate about what the best play is. In the spoiler below you can read a snippet of a conversation between Joseph and Nuba.

[spoiler title=”Joseph & Nuba”]

Both of these guys agreed that Argus was ‘obviously’ the best play. But they disagreed over what to kill (Loatheb vs Teacher). 

Joseph’s Opinion

You can’t play Belcher because you lose to Sap, all the other minions are useless in this situation, and if he has any action you die. If you Life Tap here, you are literally just committing suicide, and might as well hit concede. Therefore I think the play here is really straightforward: Playing anything but playing Argus pretty much loses you the game. […]

You could kill the teacher, but the Loatheb play also suggests he has ‘Tinker Oil’ in hand, and there is a small chance it could hit a newly spawned recruit if you keep teacher alive. Also, most of your AOE you can draw kills 1/1’s, but Loatheb is hard to remove and represents five damage as opposed to the Teacher’s three damage.

[…]You have to be proactive against Oil Rogue. I think the most important thing about this scenario is it shows how you need to play against Rogue. Many will say “play defender” thinking the taunt is the most important thing, but what I find interesting is that the reason defender is the best play is because you have to kill one of their minions (which as I explained should be Loatheb since it is the biggest threat). I think this is a good scenario to show how, while the play may seem obvious, why you make that play is not for the reason most people would think.

Nuba’s Opinion

Rogue threats must be eliminated quickly, and playing the Argus to trade in for the teacher is the only safe way to prevent a possible snowball. Moreover, giving the Drake Taunt means that the opponent actually has to deal with the Drake instead of ignoring it and pressuring our life total.

Every other play simply drops minions on the board, but — as explained in the Oil Rogue CFWS Article I wrote– plays that don’t interact with the Rogue’s board will often put you very far behind and you will lose the game as a result.

[…]Thus the Argus is the only safe play, because you’ll be: (a) denying him board presence, (b) denying him ways to snowball by killing his teacher, and (c) posing a threat on the board that trades for his whole board (if he doesn’t have a way to deal with it).

Moreover, if you don’t buff the Drake then the Rogue is able to kill it for free (neither the teacher nor Loatheb would have to die when attacking), thus in order to challenge the Rogue’s board you need to buff its attack to 5.

[spoiler]So, as I just explained, there is no situation where playing something other than the Argus would be beneficial to the Warlock player.


…In the End…

In this section we show/tell you about what actually happened during the game. Click on the spoiler to find out!


Click here For Twitch Video

Also note that Lifecoach is still discussing the play even after the game has finished!

p.s We are currently linking to a Twitch Vod that maybe deleted in 90 days or so. If anyone knows where we can get hold of a more permanent copy (e.g. has it been uploaded to Youtube?) please let us know.



And that conclude’s this week’s instalment of In-depth Turn Analysis.  Feel free to leave a comment letting us know what you think about the position, the series, our opinions, etc.

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Reader Submissions

If you have a position you would like us to look at please do post a link to it in the comments below.  If you would like to submit a position we would ask however that you follow a few basic rules:

  1. Submit an interesting position (can be Arena, but with that said the focus of this series shall be on constructed)
  2. Submit a high quality image in a format we can use (Imgur links are fine).
  3. Don’t constantly repost the same position.
  4. Supply all the ‘extra data’ we need. Deck Lists (Imgur link is fine), cards played, etc.
  5. If you have a Youtube video or a permanent twitch VOD with how the game ended that’s a bonus but not necessary.